A Cautionary Tale for Bloggers

Over the past few weeks I’ve been updating the look of my blog (and my on-line portfolio as well.  You can see it here if you’re so inclined.) I’ve added a few new things in the sidebar, and have generally been trying to “tie up all the loose ends”.  Not only do I dislike clutter, but I also want to make my blog as user-friendly, easily navigable, and as aesthetically appealing as possible. Although all this is a positive thing, there is one change that I am not so happy about.

The Title

You might have noticed that the title of the blog in header changed from “Style Confessions – A Fashion Diary” to “The Style Confessions – A Fashion Diary”.  It’s a little change, but one I felt was necessary.  Unfortunately I think it’s too little, too late.

Copyright Infringement and Fashion Blogs

Back in January of 2011 there were a number of issues on the subject of copyright infringement in the fashion blog world. The Coveted , a fashion blog very beloved by many, was copied by another group, who took the same name, similar domain name, and look of the original.  (To read more about the issue please see Beautifully Invisible’s great article on the subject: Copyright Infringement: The Coveted vs The Coveted. Not long after Grit and Glamour posted a fantastic article on copyright and trademark basics: Copyright and Image Use – What you need to know. At the time I wasn’t all that worried about copyright infringement, but when I started this blog in March of 2011 I added a basic copyright statement in the sidebar.

Style Confessions vs. The Style Confessions

A lot of thought went into the start of this website.  I knew I wanted to create a personal style blog, it needed a catchy title, an elegant layout and of course a nice clean domain name.  I wanted to make sure the name I chose reflected the nature of the blog AND I wanted to make sure it was unlike any existing fashion blog. After checking google numerous times and finding nothing similar  I took the available domain name – thestyleconfessions.com – and started up.  About a month later I received a notice that styleconfessions.com was available for purchase, but I decided not to buy it, mostly for financial reasons.  Now, of course, I wish I had!  Someone purchased styleconfessions.com and started a blog of the same name.  It seems to be a group of well coifed stylists showing women how to bargain shop in a series of professionally shot videos. Needless to say I’m rather upset. Although what they’re doing is different from what I do here I wish they’d chosen a different name for themselves. I started this blog in March and according to their archives their blog started in April, so maybe they just didn’t notice my website.

The thing is, they’ve also taken the name “styleconfessions” on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, you name it they’ve got it. (My Facebook and Twitter accounts are all under my real name, Heather Fonseca.) Right now my blog is more fun than financial, but I might eventually want to gain sponsors or monetize the blog in other ways.  When there’s someone else out there with a name just like mine it might put a damper on future relationships with brands.

Moral of the story? Take a few minutes to write a copyright statement for your website. Also add a ™ to your website’s name,  It only takes a few minutes and it will give you a bit of protection. (To create a ™ sign on your mac hit “option” and then “2”.)  Be sure to grab your website’s name on various social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, even if you don’t use them all that often. I wish I had grabbed styleconfessions too, even if I only to back up the name of the blog.

I’ve thought a bit about starting over with a new blog and domain name, but I’ve put so much work into this one that I’ve decided against that route.  I see this as a challenge to make my blog even better, so whenever anyone types in styleconfessions on Google, my website comes up first!

For those of you with blogs, has anything like this happened to you?

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30 Responses to A Cautionary Tale for Bloggers

  1. Paula September 25, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Thanks for this Heather. I have been thinking about this–as a graphic designer I understand the copyright stuff so I’ve always been aware BUT where my blog has been a hobby, it hasnt been so important. People have been buying domain names too. IDK.
    Paula recently posted..Partying and Polka-dotsMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 25, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      People definitely buy domain names and then keep them and sell them later on. As good names get harder to find I suppose they can sell them at a good price. I’m not ever sure how much they wanted to charge me for “styleconfessions.com” but I balk at paying for things like that. In retrospect I should have at least looked!

      Heather

  2. GRIT & GLAMOUR
    Twitter:
    September 26, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Great post, Heather. Sorry that you regret not buying the other domain. I’ve actually purchased most of the gritandglamour domains available, for exactly this reason.But it IS expensive, and even if it’s a deductible expense, the money still comes out of your pocket.

    In reality, to be absolutely sure no one’s online identity is even close to yours, it takes money, time, forethought, and a definite strategy…as you see, they now have that name across multiple channels. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t matter where they’ve stuck their name if you can get yourself higher in Google search results. Right now, you’re the top when I search on “style confessions.” Keep up the quality content, your online relationships and sharing with other bloggers, and you’ll be just fine! Oh, and right now, go out and establish or rename your existing social media accounts to The Style Confessions!

    PS: Thanks for the mention.
    GRIT & GLAMOUR recently posted..Camille Zarsky Portfolio ClutchMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 26, 2011 at 9:22 am #

      Thanks so much for the sound advice Vahni! I didn’t know you had purchased all the possible Grit and Glamour domains available, but I can see now that it’s a very good strategy. I hope my story will help others to do the same if they want to hold on to their brand name on-line. I just got a The Style Confessions page on Facebook and Twitter as well. Wish I’d done it earlier!

  3. Soooali September 26, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    God, this post was a real wake up call. Thanks for sharing.x

    • Heather Fonseca September 26, 2011 at 9:23 am #

      Thanks for stopping by and please spread the word! It’s too easy for this sort of thing to happen. It just snuck up on me.

  4. Sharon September 26, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    I made sure when I purchased my domain name, I snap it up everywhere. . . Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc (even on Myspace).

    I know another person whose blog name is being used on Twitter by someone else. She is so bummed. I tell people even if you are not going to use the social network. . . just get an account and take the name. . you never know what may happen later.

    I have not brought all the other domains but, a few days ago I decided it would be best to do so. I was trying to wait until I renew with my hosting site, the end of this year however, after reading this I think I better do it sooner.

    • Heather Fonseca September 26, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      Well, if it’s not that expensive to do so you might want to purchase the domains. I’m now thinking about purchasing more too. It’s seems so crazy but I guess as good domain names become harder to get it’s something to think about.

  5. SACRAMENTO September 26, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Does it effect me at all on Blogger, Heather???
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Reddish Brown Inspriration- Part 2 & Pop up WindowMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 26, 2011 at 10:52 am #

      Hi Sacramento, It only affects you if you really want to claim the name of your blog as your own. If someone else takes the domain name mispapelicos.com and starts a blog will you be upset? Would you be upset if someone started a mispapelicos facebook page, twitter account etc. Because I pay for my web hosting and domain name, and because this blog is part of my online persona, I was hoping to keep “The Style Confessions” as part of my “brand”. Now It’s sort of been duplicated by someone else, who has a different look and style. I don’t know how much it will affect me really, but it would have been smart of me to claim the name in more areas.

  6. Terri
    Twitter:
    September 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Hm, this is worrisome. I’ve tried to lock up my name on a variety of web platforms, but how could one possibly keep up with them all?
    Terri recently posted..The Wedding PartyMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 26, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      Honestly Terri I don’t know. I think as long as you’ve tagged the top few, Twitter, Facebook etc, you should be OK. But I’m no expert!

  7. SACRAMENTO September 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I woul hate it. What can I do??? ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
    How do I do it???
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Reddish Brown Inspriration- Part 2 & Pop up WindowMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

      I just sent you a whole bunch of tweets with links! Just ideas, but it’s a start.

  8. Pearl Westwood September 26, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    This is such a hard issue to tackle, I dont own the .com to fashionpearlsofwisdom just the co.uk and .net I tried to buy the .com but it is taken by a ‘holder’ site, so frustrating!

    • Heather Fonseca September 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

      Oh my gosh I forgot about all the .nets and such. There are so many versions of these things. Sigh. Perhaps it’s impossible to completely protect one’s site. I hope eventually the holder site decides to sell the name to you!

  9. SACRAMENTO September 27, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    I only got one twit to follow you.I thought we fowolled each other from the beginning???
    This is my email:
    canelahada@hotmail.com
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Reddish Brown Inspriration- Part 2 & Pop up WindowMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 27, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      Yes we’ve been following each other for a long time. I started a new twitter account with my blog’s name: TheStyleConfess on twitter. I still have my regular HeatherFonseca account on twitter too.

  10. SACRAMENTO September 27, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    I have already bought my own domain in Blogger. Now I am mispapelicos.com.It was really easy and cheap 12 dollar for a year.
    Do I have to add TM too??
    SACRAMENTO recently posted..Reddish Brown Inspriration- Part 2 & Pop up WindowMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca September 27, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      I’m glad the domain name wasn’t expensive. Mine was about the same amount of money. I don’t know much about copyright laws in Europe. The ™ might only be useful in the U.S.

  11. THE-LOUDMOUTH
    Twitter:
    September 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Man, this is just like The Coveted/Coveted fiasco! Thanks for the advice… theloudmouth.com and loudmouth.com were both taken (hence the-loudmouth.com) but neither of them are fashion blogs, fortunately!!!
    THE-LOUDMOUTH recently posted..Look :: TransitioningMy Profile

  12. Mel September 28, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    Definitely good advice for bloggers who intend to further their brand!

    Found your post through the Blog Zone on LinkedIn and look forward to following. :)

  13. Tershbango September 28, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Oooh, this angers me on your behalf, Heather. Let me know if you need me to break some legs. I’m in the kinda mood where I might take an alarming amount of pleasure in doing so. ;)
    Tershbango recently posted..The Newlywed GameMy Profile

  14. Tina
    Twitter:
    October 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    What an informative post…that really stinks that someone bought a similar name to your domain! It makes me thing that I should buy the similar names to my website. The good news it that you are still the first thing that pops to the top on google search.

    p.s. you are a very talented – beautiful fashion illustrations on your design website. Love this one:
    http://heatherfonseca.com/fashion-illustrations/inspired-by-the-sartorialist/

    Tina

    • Heather Fonseca October 2, 2011 at 9:52 am #

      Thank you Tina! So glad you like my drawings too. I can’t wait to do some new ones, but I’ve been too busy working recently.

  15. Jamillah October 2, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Oh Heather, I’m sorry this happened to you and really thank you a million times for sharing. I would be heart broken if this happened to me. I agree with V keep putting up great content and being vigilant about your relationships. You have a wonderful space and regardless that there is a name that is close there will be no one close to you.
    Jamillah recently posted..Smile File-The Levitating GirlMy Profile

    • Heather Fonseca October 3, 2011 at 10:08 am #

      Thanks Jamillah! That is so sweet of you! I really think as good domain names get harder to find this will happen more and more. I’ve noticed that there’s now a Style Confessions and various variations of the name on blogger too. Another thing I didn’t think of – getting the blogger domain as well. Oh well. You live and you learn!

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